Kim's Reviews > Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
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's review
Dec 22, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction
Recommended to Kim by: My aunt
Recommended for: Everyone
Read from December 15 to 19, 2011

This is the third book in a trilogy that all Western schoolchildren should read to put worl history in proper perspective. The first is 1491 by Charles Mann about the "real" Americas before Columbus, the second is Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary about the history of the world from the Islamic perspective, and this is the third.

The Mongolian Empire gets a bad rap in the West and all because of a political accident that occurred in 1755. Voltaire was writing a play to skewer the King of France, but out of concern for his life, he substituted Genghis Khan for the King. Thenceforth, the Mongolians were on the outs.

In fact, the Mongolian Empire created the modern world as we know it and introduced widely accepted and indeed, revered principles such as diplomatic immunity, freedom of religion, the rule of law, free trade, professional standing armies. He established the world's first census, started the world's first postal system, created the first social service bureaucracy, abolished torture, etc. His daughters ruled their own empires in their own rights. As the author says, "the scale and scope of Genghis Khan's accomplishments challenge the limits of the imagination and tax the resources of scholarly explanation."

It was the Mongolian's that built Beijing and ruled China as the Yuan Dynasty. The Forbidden City was built the way it was so that the royal family (of Kubla Khan, Genghis's descendant) could live in gers and keep their horses just as they did on the Steppe. The Mongolian's united China in one economy and one territory, virtually the identical boundaries that exist today. The Mongolians also established the Moghul Dynasty in India, the last outpost against British Imperialism and the source of some of the most deliriously beautiful architecture and art we have a race. It was Genghis Khan's descendant who built the Taj Mahal. It was also his descendants who ruled the Golden Horde in Russia, and the Ilkhanate in Persia. He introduced the Chinese to Europeans and vice versa -- he established global trade routes and commercial contacts that exist to this day.

In other words, Genghis rocks, and this book will chill you to the bone. The efforts the West has gone to to destroy his reputation and take credit for his innovations is downright creepy -- including actions taken by the Soviets as recently as the 1960s in the original Mongolian homeland.

A must-read!
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Sandra I believe you meant Charles Mann as author of Americas before Columbus, yes?

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